Dear 100 Hour Board,
I'm looking for religious artwork to use in my new home. In particular, I'm looking for paintings of Christ. My frustration is that all of the paintings of Christ I am finding are very...white, and I'm looking for artwork that is more reflective of what Christ really looked like, as well as artwork that is representative of how other non-white cultures conceptualize Christ. What are your favorite pieces of artwork of Christ that don't depict him as obviously white?
Dear frog princess,
Sorry I held this over for so long, but hopefully this will be worth your while.
This question came in just a few days after a piece in the Provo Temple made me cry. Looking back on it, Christ is quite light-skinned, but I like that he's still ethnically ambiguous. And that his deep-set eyes still shine. I'll have to find a place to hang this one when I one day have means to buy it. Here it is, by Jeff Hein:
That was my favorite portrayal when I first read the question, but then I got excited and made tables of more.
1: "Maybe You Could Find Me in Seagull Book"
You can see the same table but with previews of the photos here.
|Christ Heals the Sick||Christ Washing Apostle's Feet|
|And He Blessed Them One By One||The Raising of the Daughter of Jairus|
|Greatest In the Kingdom (Boy)||Greatest In the Kingdom (Girl)||That They Might Have Joy|
|Redeemer||Light of the World||Though Your Sins be as Scarlet|
|Out of the Wilderness||Joy of the Lord||The Way of Joy|
-Depedning on the artist, Christ may be more or less light-skinned. However, the facial structure and features don't seem to be typical Anglo-Saxon features.
-I'm a big fan of Brent Bessop, and his are a bit more affordable than others, depending on the style. Plus, it seems easier to commission from him if you wanted.
1.B: I actually went to Deseret Book and snapped shots of ones I thought you might like.
Here's that table. Most of them are by David Bowman, and I've become a big fan of his work.
2. From the Alumni
Pilgrim showed me this picture, which is strikingly beautiful. And Heidi Book shared some nativity scenes that she got from a friend who's an art history major, and looking at them made me want to be an art history major, for there seems to be a lot of truth that my untrained eyes can't see. Here is the table of those paintings.
3. He is not here, for He is risen.
Based on the following quote from Greg Olsen, these next few paintings — all by artist Ron Richmond — might be some of my absolute favorites.
“The idea of doing a painting which somehow claims to be a representation of the Savior Jesus Christ seems both presumptuous and impossible. At the very least it is intimidating. Each individual Christian probably has a very personal and unique image of Him in their mind, none of which an artist can duplicate or fully capture. My intent has been to paint images that I refer to as “symbols” of Him. They are an attempt to capture my feelings about Him and to reflect some aspect of His spirit and character. The intent of such a painting is to help us remember Him, and as we do, we invite His spirit to be with us.”
These works, with the human figure being absent but the heartfelt characteristic standing strong, remind me that Christ is in everything. Through their principles I can better understand that the physical world is a key to understanding the spiritual.
I met this artist once, and we joked that some people don't like his paintings because they are a bit 'dark' to represent Christ. But, the way I see it— in order to complete his mission, Christ had to become well-acquainted with darkness. How else could He overcome it? And how else can we, but through him?
Look to Ethiopia! Ethiopia has a Christian history dating back to the 1st century AD, and the accompanying iconography depicts Jesus, nearly uniformly, as African. Plus, it's lovely art.
This is kind of tangential and since there are already a lot of suggestions I'm only going to provide my personal favorite picture of Christ which happens to be by an LDS painter. In general I'm not a huge fan of paintings of Christ by LDS painters, at least in part because of the frustration you mentioned. I remember once seeing a picture of a pale and almost blonde Christ with very white, blonde, blue-eyed children in a small painting in an LDS chapel and to be honest, it was very disturbing. (Bear in mind that I am very white, blonde, and blue-eyed.) This was one of the first times I remember disliking a painting of Christ. (I mean, aside from a super political painting of Christ delivering the Constitution to the founding fathers.) There's also a painting by a certain famous LDS painter in which Christ is smiling with his teeth showing and that one haunts me. And many of the commonly used paintings of Christ in church buildings seem to me, a bit trite. (Notable exception to that is Minerva Teichert's Rescue of the Lost Sheep which hangs in my childhood home and I still adore.)
So, long detour, but my favorite depiction of Christ is Liz Lemon Swindle's Worth of a Soul. Christ is still fairly light skinned in it but I absolutely love the expression on his face. There's an intense love that radiates from it.
Anyway, this is pretty rambling probably because I'm typing it on my phone during a sacrament meeting in which I was thinking about this very topic but I hope you find what you're looking for and hope you like my recommendation.